Vietnam conducts first firing of S-300 PMU-1 missile after 20 years

According to Defense Studies, the Vietnamese Air Defense Force successfully launched its first S-300 missile, almost 20 years after the initial import of two S-300 PMU-1 systems from the Russian Federation. This development comes against the backdrop of the evolving air defense capabilities of Vietnam and the Southeast Asian region.
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The missile used for this launch was a 48N6E (S-300), with a range of 150 km and a maximum target destruction altitude of 27 km (Picture source: Vietnam MoD)

The missile used for this launch was a 48N6E, with a range of 150 km and a maximum target destruction altitude of 27 km. The unit cost of the missile is estimated at $1 million. In 2003, Vietnam acquired two S-300 PMU-1 systems, including 12 launchers, for a cost of around $300 million. Additional improvements were made to the system with the acquisition of RLS 96L6 radars after 2009, followed by the purchase of the S-300 PMU-2 in 2012.

The S-300 PMU-1 was developed between 1985 and 1989 and was first demonstrated at the 1992 Moscow Air Show. This variant underwent several modifications compared to its predecessor, the S-300 PMU, including in terms of radar range and engagement, level of automation, and anti-ballistic missile capabilities. The system can engage multiple types of aerial targets, from fighter jets to cruise missiles and tactical ballistic missiles.

The S-300 PMU-1 missile system is capable of simultaneously engaging up to 36 aerial targets with 72 missiles. The exchange of data between the different components of the system can be carried out via encrypted communication lines, in radio or wired modes. The maximum distance between command and control assets and air defense systems is up to 35 km with repeater stations and up to 100 km with wired communications and radio relay stations.

The S-300PMU and S-300PMU-1 are air defense systems equipped with 5P85S and 5P85T Transporter Erector Launchers (TELs), with the export versions being labeled as 5P85SE/TE. Each TEL comes loaded with four 48N6 missiles that have a range of 150 km and can travel at speeds of up to Mach 6. The missiles are also equipped with a 70-100 kg high-explosive warhead. These systems are supported by a 54K6E command post vehicle and a 1T12 site survey vehicle. The radars and TELs operate on the MAZ-543M 8x8 chassis, or they can be towed by KrAZ-260B trucks. The S-300PMU-1 is notable for introducing various types of missiles into a single system for the first time.

While the S-300PMU is primarily in service with Russia and Ukraine, the more advanced S-300PMU-1 has seen exports to several countries including China, Greece, Slovakia, and Vietnam. This line was further developed into the S-300PMU-2 Favorit, also known in the West as the SA-20B or Gargoyle. Introduced in 1997, the Favorit was designed specifically for export and has been sold to countries such as Algeria, Azerbaijan, China, and Iran.